It has been a tradition for more than a century: Oakdale vs. Sonora on a Friday night. The stage was set; Mustangs vs. Wildcats inside The Corral to start the 2018 varsity football season. The hype train was in full effect and shortly after kickoff, the hype train turned into a train wreck for the visitors; as Oakdale won 49-0 to send Sonora back up the hill shell-shocked.
Oakdale scored twice in the first quarter, both touchdowns coming in the final four minutes of the opening frame. Oscar Ramos scored the inaugural touchdown of the season on a one yard rush to give Oakdale a 7-0 advantage. Less than three minutes later Zeke Saffar cashed in on a 35 yard rushing touchdown to double the Mustangs lead. Saffar struck again when he scored on a 54 yard run in the first minute of the second quarter to open the game up to 21-0. Saffar finished with five carries for 113 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Having a big game on both sides of the ball, Caleb Kuppens was a thorn in the Wildcats paws. On defense Kuppens recovered two fumbles, including one where he returned it 36 yards to set up a score. He was a presence on special teams where he and Carson Frazee wreaked havoc on a play that saw Frazee block a punt. On the offense Kuppens scored on a one yard carry to go up 28-0.
“We watched a lot of film, and my brothers had trust in me and I have trust in them,” said Kuppens. “It was very important to go out there and get this win and start the season off on the right track.”
In the second half Oakdale came out firing when quarterback Hayden Knittel found Devin Murphy in the back of the end zone to go up 35-0 early in the quarter. The Mustangs ground attack continued to impress the large home crowd when Leo Ayala found the end zone on an 11 yard rush late in the third quarter to expand the lead to 42-0. The final score of the night came when Evan Waite scored on a 15 yard catch and run with 4:20 left in the game.
With new offensive line coach Joey Machado, the line looked like it has over recent history, powerful, fast and disciplined. The line opened up holes for the backs, kept both quarterbacks upright and did not commit a penalty the whole game.
“Our goal was to come out here and make the holes and blocks that we have to do. I think we did that but could also improve on it as well,” said lineman Robert Silva.
This is the 19th season that the Mustangs have been coached by Trent Merzon. With essentially a new roster, Merzon and his staff kept calm and got his players motivated for the rivalry game.
“We wanted to see how we would react, see how the players would react. I think following the game the expectations are higher,” said Merzon. “I think we played really well in spurts, which means we didn’t play real well in spurts too. We got up on them and at other times we played so-so, and that’s my fault. I think we played well early and jumped on them, on both sides of the ball, and then we kind of went ‘ehh’ through some of the night.”
This Saturday afternoon Oakdale will take on Archbishop Mitty at St. Francis High School. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.